Dec 31, 2013

The End of Editorial Explanations

The post title says it all: there will be no more posts on Editorial Explanations from this point forward. The end of a year -- and, possibly, the beginning of another year, an election year, when the cartoons will get nasty and rude and personal for months on end -- seemed to be the perfect time to do that, and so it is.

Editorial Explanations, like most things, never quite lived up to its own image of itself -- you can see my second anniversary post, from last February, for the fullest explanation of what EE was intended to be, and how it didn't always live up to that -- but it was fun to do all of the time for quite a while, and then fun to do much of the time during and since the 2012 election. So I don't regret it.

But editorial cartoons are an arguably dying artform, and there are fewer cartoonists working than even when I started this blog in February of 2011 (and that was well after the first big wave of newspaper closures and layoffs and consolidations). As the field tightens, the scope for the kind of work that I really wanted to showcase here -- the local cartoonist for the Podunk Herald, doing a lazy cartoon about a dead famous person, or about a news story in a country he knows only cliches about -- shrinks and narrows until it has basically disappeared.

There are still bad editorial cartoons out there: they appear every day. But they are mostly deliberately bad cartoons these days, that take the opposite of the facts and turn that into propaganda to score points for a particular political team. I've spent more time on those deliberately bad cartoons than I've wanted to -- they are my own particular tar baby -- but it's time now to walk away.

Perhaps this is a case of Gresham's Law, but I don't think so: there's still also great cartoons almost every day. And the same cartoonists who do a deliberately bad cartoon one day can go a great one the next day -- I found myself laughing at an A.F. Branco cartoon only a week or so ago, showing that even our newest and most tendentious cartoonists can break out of the scoring-points mold now and again.

So I hope the few of you that read this blog will continue to read editorial cartoons: at their best, they crystallize complicated ideas and situations into a visual metaphor that can make us look at the world differently. And, yes, at their worst, they're purely cheerleading for their "team," mostly in the form of taunts about the opposing team. But every artform has both best and worst: that's what makes them art.

But you'll have to find those cartoons elsewhere -- I suggest my three major sources, AAEC, GoComics, and Cagle. And you'll have them without my snarky commentary...which may well be a plus.

Thanks for reading.


  1. I'm really going to miss your blog. I think you did a great service for editorial cartooning and journalism. I made a daily habit of checking out your blog, even during my year away from cartooning. I even enjoyed when you picked on me. Best of luck in your future endeavors and I hope you change y our mind.

  2. Nooooo! Dang it. I just discovered your Blog today and it was amazing! What a way you have to make such short and sweet commentary! I might be two/three months late, but I'll never forget you, mod!


Please remember that the purpose of Editorial Explanations is to explain and to expand knowledge, rather than to engage in any partisan bickering. All cartoonists are completely correct, in their own worlds.